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Horcoff headlines Chilliwack Chiefs Dream Team

Three weeks of fan voting at has produced six players judged to be the best in franchise history.
Chiefs Dream Team goalie Curtis Darling snags a loose puck during his BCHL heyday.

A National Hockey Leaguer.

An Ingolstadt Panther legend.

A goalie who scored a goal.

A member of the 2011 Vancouver Canuck Stanley Cup finalists.

A Netherlands hockey veteran and one of the toughest players in BCHL history.

Three weeks of online voting at has produced the Chilliwack Chiefs all-time dream team.

Fans were invited to vote in two rounds.

The first round, over three weeks, narrowed a list of 100 candidates to a short-list of 25.

1,721 votes were cast.

The second round, over two weeks, pared that down to the final six.

313 votes were cast.

This is the result.



Shawn Horcoff played just one year for the Chiefs in 1994-95.

But it was spectacular.

The Trail native sniped 49 goals and 145 points in just 58 games.

An injury sidelined him during that year’s playoffs, when the Chiefs were favourites to win the BCHL title. With Horcoff out, Chilliwack lost to the Langley Thunder in a tense seven game second round series.

“He was extremely competitive and played hard. Coach (Harvey) Smyl talked to me several times about Shawn’s compete and desire,” said former Chief Doug Ast. “I think as he approaches 1,000 NHL games this approach and attitude has carried him through an outstanding career.”

After Chilliwack, Horcoff spent four years at Michigan State University. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and helped them to a Stanley Cup final in 2005-06.

Still in the NHL, the 36 year old has played 57 games for the Dallas Stars this season.



How many people can say their jersey is hanging from the rafters of a hockey arena in Germany?

Chilliwack’s own Doug Ast wore No. 18 for the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (German Hockey League) Ingolstadt Panthers. Twice he led his team in scoring, leading them to the playoffs five straight years.

When health issues forced him to hang up the skates following the 2008-09 season, his jersey number was retired.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, drop by Ingolstadt’s Saturn Arena for a peek.

Ast played three years for the Chiefs, between 1991-94. In 161 regular season games he tallied 101 goals and 242 points.



In 2001-02 the son of ex-NHLer Steve Tambellini terrorized BCHL goalies, sniping 46 goals  (and 117 points) in just 34 regular season games.

His Chiefs rolled through the playoffs, winning a BCHL title, Mowat Cup and Doyle Cup and securing a Royal Bank Cup appearance.

“He was a gifted skater that had blinding speed and quickness at junior level,” Ast recalled. “He also possessed one of the best shots  in the league due to his quick release and accuracy. I remember watching the Chiefs power play at the time and Tamby was on the point often as quarterback.”

A first round draft pick of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings in 2003, Tambellini spent three years at the University of Michigan and played 242 NHL games.

He was part of Vancouver’s Stanley Cup run in 2011 and currently plays for Vaxjo HC of the Swedish Hockey League.



One of the best blueliners in Netherlands Hockey League (Hlnd) history, Nichols got his start with the Chiefs.

A Chilliwack native, Nichols played two years for his hometown team (1997-99).

“He was a smooth-skating and smart defenceman that really had no weaknesses, and he could play a physical game if it was necessary,” Ast said. “He was a great power play D-man with a laser for a shot and the vision to make players around him better. He was known for being a good teammate and had great hair too!”

Nichols ventured overseas after leaving the BCHL, signing with the Hlnd’s Tillburg Trappers.

From 1999-2014 he logged 465 games in the Hlnd.

Six years were spent with Tillburg.

Nichols also skated for the Heerenveen Flyers, The Hague HYS and Dordrecht Lions.



Possibly the toughest player to ever play in the BCHL, the Chilliwack native played for his hometown team from 1997-99.

With 265 penalty minutes in 87 regular season games, the big D-man was never someone you wanted to mess with.

“The toughest Chief in an era when teams could really intimidate, Brandon was appropriately known as the Undertaker,” Ast said. “As he got older the rest of his game evolved. He was a smart defenceman that kept it simple and played hard on the opposition night in and night out.  When he was on the ice it was his puck and if you took it you needed to be prepared to feel his wrath.”

Fleenor had 16 goals and 44 points in 56 games his final season, then spent several years in the minor leagues.

He played for the Tacoma Sabercats in the now-defunct West Coast Hockey League.

He played for the Rockford IceHogs, Motor City Mechanics and Adirondack IceHawks in the UHL and the Toledo Storm and Pensacola Ice Pilots in the ECHL.

Fleenor played two games at the American Hockey League level, one each with the Cleveland Barons and Milwaukee Admirals.



Maybe the best puck-handling goalie in BCHL history, Darling (2002-04) produced one of the most memorable moments in Chilliwack Chiefs history.

During the 2003-04 season his Chiefs were up 2-1 late in a regular season game when the opponents pulled their goalie.

Darling fired a loose puck the length of the ice into the unguarded cage.

Twice Darling was named the Chiefs MVP.

He finished his BCHL career with 52 regular season wins, the most for any player in a Chilliwack uniform.

His 4,999 minutes played are second behind Mitch Gillam.

After the BCHL Darling spent three years at the University of Waterloo and four more years between the ECHL and AHL.

Darling hung up the skates following the 2009-10 season.

Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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